40+ resources for your move to India

by neo

Your move to India will quite possibly be one of the most difficult moves of your life. You will gain a deep, philosophical understanding of the phrase “WTF?!”.

But the good news is – you have Neo as a reliable ally, and he will do whatever he can to help.

So here is a list of resources that Neo has found useful during and after his move to India. Although Neo has used most of these services first-hand, do your own due diligence! And please let Neo know if you can suggest any additions or changes to this list!

(Update: Neo recently posted a list of “15 financial tips for returning Indians”)

Forums/blogs

  1. r2iclubforums – Gold mine of advice from other returnees to India (esp. on investments and finance).
  2. indiamike.com – Travel tips, restaurant recommendations etc from expats from all countries living in India.
  3. neoindian.org – Oh yes.

Customs/Immigration

my passport arrived

  1. Indian customs – Your first, ugly taste of India when you return. Check if you qualify for the “returning professionals” or “transfer of residence” category, which simplifies things greatly. Neo brought back very little from the US, but still got charged Rs. 20,000. (Updated: Note: you might need to claim the “transfer of residence” when your stuff arrives from overseas (usually by ship), not necessarily at the airport when you arrive. If you get a good moving company, they will advise you on the best course of action.)
  2. Overseas Indian Citizenship – This is actually an “Indian green card’, not a citizenship of India.
  3. US State.gov registration – If you are a US citizen like Neo, it’s a good idea to register yourself with the State.gov site. They email you helpful information from your local embassy or consulate.

Banks

  1. SBI – Quite possibly the safest bank in India. If SBI sinks, head for the caves. Surprisingly good online banking for a government bank.
  2. bank_strike_work

  3. Citibank – Neo uses them primarily because he can view/pay his electricity (BESCOM) bill online through their free bill payment service.
  4. Standard Chartered – Neo has used this bank in the past because he heard they are one of the safer International banks in India.
  5. ICICI – Quite possibly the most hated bank in the world. But they were kind enough to give Neo a credit card when he had just arrived. ICICI cards are Visa, most others use Mastercard.
  6. NEFTNEFT rocks. Transfer money within a day or two to any bank account in India for free! Most good banks support this.

International Money transfer

  1. SBI – Neo uses this to transfer money from the US to India. Good exchange rates, but quite slow (took 2 weeks once!)

Finance/taxes

  1. RBI Foreign Exchange rules – Converting from other currencies to Indian Rupees is quite straightforward. Going the other way is not!
  2. #30

  3. IRS guide for US citizens living abroad – US citizens must file US taxes even if you stay on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, although you might get a Foreign Tax Credit.
  4. Resident but Not Ordinarily Resident (RNOR) – The most confusing residency status in the world, created by the Indian government to keep taxmen employed. Use this calculator to find out if you qualify.

Mobile (cell phone) providers

  1. Airtel – Neo thinks the mobile phone service market in India is so competitive, there is not much difference between the leaders. But – Neo uses Airtel – pays roughly Rs. 700 per month.
  2. Reliance Blackberry – Neo has just started using this service. So far so good. (Note for the geeks: Reliance is CDMA – no SIM cards)

Health

  1. CDC Travelers’ Health – Nice summary of the various India-specific health issues, and “what to bring”. Its best to consult a good doctor in India upon arrival to discuss vaccination for young children etc.

Appliances

  1. APC UPS – Neo uses this for his home computer setup. No issues so far. It even interfaces with the computer so you can check how much battery time is left, and shutdown automatically when you’re running low.
  2. APC Inverter – Neo uses the APC inverter to power the lights, fans, TV etc. when there are power outages (quite frequent in late summer).

  3. LG – Neo is not an expert in home electronics – but LG has a good service record, and their TVs, Washing Machines, Refrigerators are well-priced and well-suited to Indian conditions.
  4. Aquaguard – Some of the newer models are just outrageously bloated in features and price. Neo wants a water purifier, not a  spaceship.

Automobile

  1. Maruti – If you want to be understated and avoid driving around with a “i-have-lots-of-money” sticker on your butt, there’s nothing like Maruti. Plus they probably have the cheapest and most extensive repair network.
  2. warning

  3. Honda – Neo likes the Honda Citi, and the Honda CRV
  4. Toyota – Neo likes the Corolla (The Indian Corolla is positioned more like the Camry is in the US)
  5. team-bhp – Awesome forum for auto reviews, repairs, mods, road trips

Internet

  1. Airtel Broadband – Neo uses Airtel’s Broadband service at home – it seems to be reasonably reliable. It comes with a “free” land-line number that works well (although almost no one uses land lines any more in India!)

TV/Cable

  1. Tata Sky – Neo thinks this represents the best combination of technology, entertainment choice and good service in India.
  2. Dish TV – Many people use Dish TV – Neo has no personal experience.
  3. Worldspace – FM Radio in India has devolved to ad-infested crap. Neo loves worldspace satellite radio, especially because they carry NPR Worldwide. (Their US holding company is bankrupt, so Neo doesn’t know how long they will last in India)

Moving companies

  1. Sky2C – Neo had a fairly good experience with this moving company. They had a partnership with a Mumbai-based company that helped Neo with Indian customs.

House Maintenance

  1. Handiman – After struggling with drunk and perennially late plumbers and electricians, Neo found Handiman. It’s a professional company that actually answers calls on time – they charge Rs. 300 for an hours worth of work, but you can make them do several jobs in that one hour. Expensive but worth it.

Auto Insurance

  1. Maruti Insurance (auto insurance) – If someone hits your car, its a pain in the ass to get his insurance to pay for your damage – so most people just use their own insurances. Neo has used Maruti Insurance on a couple of occasions and they paid on time. Other people have also reported good things about it.

Classifieds, Yellow Pages, Reviews

  1. Just Dial – These dudes seem to have the most comprehensive yellow-pages type thing.
  2. Mouthshut – Like all review sites, unhappy customers are usually more motivated to review. But useful nonetheless.

Cooking gas

  1. HP gas – Apparently you can apply for a new connection and get refills online – Neo has not tried it yet.
  2. Indian Oil’s gas service – Neo has not tried it yet, but has friends who say it’s easier to get the Indane gas service as compared to the others.

Organizational tools

  1. Evernote – Neo uses Evernote to organize his notes, web clippings etc.
  2. Remember the Milk – The ultimate GTD-compatible to-do list. You can “mail” tasks to your spouses, and it allows a complete export of your data (very useful for backups)

What did Neo miss ? Any other suggestions, additions or corrections ? Leave a comment below!

  • Photo credits: All photos are licensed under the Creative Commons license and have been linked to the originals.

Also see: “15 financial tips for returning Indians”

Be Sociable, Share!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!